Dave King

Dave King
Dave King

Dave King was a British comedian who also acted in some notable fillms such as “The Long Good Friday”, “Go to Blazes” and “Revolution”.   He died in 2002 at the age of 72.

“Guardian” obituary:

During an all-too-short career 40 years ago, it was predicted – with complete justification – that he would be one of the greatest British entertainers of all time. He was a brilliant comedian who helped give back the London Palladium to Britain at a time when its stage was dominated by American stars like Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Lena Horne.

He decided to try his hand at pop singing and proved that not only did he have a very pleasant voice, but it was strong enough to take him to the top of the charts. And, as if that was not enough, he was going to star on television. It was a wise choice.

Not only was he a brilliant success here in Britain, but he was taken to America on the strength of it – and he didn’t simply appear on TV there, he actually hosted the country’s most famous variety show, the Kraft Music Hall, which had been the home of Milton Berle (and in its former incarnation on radio had starred both Bing Crosby and Al Jolson).

The nay-sayers predicted disaster. They were wrong. Unlike almost every other British star who thought he could do wonderfully well on both sides of the Atlantic and then proved it an impossible dream, it seemed that Dave King could do no wrong.

And then he walked the well-worn path chosen by many other entertainers: he decided to go legit, to play in dramatic roles. The doom peddlers were again wrong. He was an outstanding success – not just on the small screen, both in America and Britain, but in Hollywood, too.

That was success beyond most entertainers’ dreams. And then it all started to go downhill. He wasn’t quite in demand to the same extent any more. His style of comedy began to be seen as dated – even though he had had people like Mel Brooks writing for him. His way of singing went out of fashion with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. And his lyrical voice, which sang songs of romance like Memories Are Made Of This or You Can’t Be True To Two, didn’t go down at all well with record-buyers who worshipped at the shrine of the four lads from Liverpool. But, although he remained a journeyman actor when he appeared in small or cameo roles on both sizes of screen, there were always fans who cheered his presence.

Dave King was born in Twickenham and went into show business seriously after completing national service in the RAF, although he had previously joined Morton Fraser and his Harmonica Gang, an outfit unashamedly based on the American Borrah Minevitch’s Harmonica Rascals (the group which, a few years earlier, had told a youngster called Larry Adler that he wasn’t good enough for them).

He went back to the gang after national service, but was soon branching out as a solo artist – mainly as a singer. But he also showed that he could be funny, and in 1955 the BBC gave him his own TV series, which sometimes featured the shapely singer Yana and a magician whom he predicted would soon go far, by the name of Tommy Cooper.

He continued to make records, which were perhaps a little too close to the original recordings made by Dean Martin and Perry Como. But, in those days, when records were bought for their own sake, no one seemed to mind that they were mere cover versions. They sounded nice, and young men liked to put them on the turntables of their wind-up (or newly bought electric) record players, and dance smoochily to them with their pony-tailed girlfriends. Tunes like The Story Of My Life went to the top of the UK charts in 1958.

When, in 1961, King was asked to take a small role in the Crosby-Hope film The Road To Hong Kong, no one was at all surprised. He starred in the Robert Morley comedy film, Go To Blazes a year later, and also in Up The Chastity Belt (1971) with Frankie Howerd. But he wanted more dramatic parts and found them in films like The Long Good Friday (1980) and in Warren Beatty’s story of the Russian Revolution, Reds (1981).

He also took important roles on television, as in Pennies From Heaven (1978) and The Sweeney. In the mid-1990s he played Clifford Duckworth in Coronation Street.

In the 1970s and early 80s, Dave King was familiarly typecast as a cockney gangster. He used to say, however, that he would like to have been remembered as a great comedian. There are still plenty of people around who do think of him, as his pal Tommy Cooper would have said, just like that.

King’s wife predeceased him. He is survived by their two daughters.

Dave King, comedian, singer and actor, born June 23 1929; died April 15 2002

The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *